Good grief. The more I write from Coriolanus' point of view, the more I realise that he's a horrible, horrible person.
Pokémon on the Farm
Use the words Pokémon and agriculture in the same sentence, and one is immediately caught up in the Miltank controversy. Covered in greater detail in the article pertaining to the creatures themselves, this is but one of the myriad issues surrounding the keeping of Pokémon for fur, meat or eggs. The dubious legality of growing Oddish to smoke the leaves; the debate over whether Corphish feel pain; the questionable safety of distilled Gulpin – the list goes on and on. Is this area, then, best left alone? Is it too dangerous, too controversial, for the average farmer to consider?
I say no. I recall my time on a Whimsicott farm fondly; there were dangers, yes – particularly when small children came on a school trip – but if we had had the proper security measures, then all would have been well. In fact, the only truly bad experience I have had on a farm would be when I inspected a Combee apiary, where certain things that are best left unsaid occurred. Fine, you say; Coriolanus Rowland is self-evidently a man who knows what he's talking about – but what are we to do to keep our farms safe? How can we evade the heavy penalties so often exacted on unfortunate farmers when their livestock kidnap and consume a contingent of ramblers?
First and foremost, equip yourself with a sterling lawyer. This is your first and most important line of defence against lawsuits. Secondly, adhere rigidly to the directions given herein; doing so may well result in a cessation of accidents (though that does seem too much to hope for, given that you are attempting to confine and farm super-powered animals). Thirdly, make sure you always have a scapegoat; this is a rule my father taught me when I was a child, and it does credit to his memory that I can say it has served me well in all walks of life. It is also, incidentally, the reason why my wife and I are no longer on speaking terms.
But enough of me. Read on, absorb my wisdom, and bring life back into your farm.
When the question of Pokémon agriculture is brought up, there is simply no way around mentioning Miltank (Superbovus maximus). Herded in north-west Johto for hundreds of years, they are the prevailing icon of Pokémon farming. In recent years, however, there has been fierce debate about the properties of their famous milk, which is a rich cocktail of vitamins and minerals that confers remarkable good health upon the drinker. The issue lies in the high addictiveness of the stuff: with the expansion of Miltank farms, milk addiction is becoming more and more of an issue.
It might seem paradoxical to condemn an addictive substance for being too healthy, but there's more. Overdosing on so-called Moomoo milk leads to the development of supernatural speed and strength, and the combination of these powers with the inherently dangerous nature of an addict is a daunting prospect.
Consequently, the farming of Miltank is prohibited in the EU, and the topic is the subject of intense debate in the US. Many other countries allow only their meat to be harvested, though in fact some of them permit a restricted trade in the milk, and in the Congo there are no laws about Miltank products at all. Unfortunately, there are a few minor political factors that make setting up a farm there economically unviable.
However, if one is set on farming Miltank, remember that this will also mean keeping at least one or two Tauros to impregnate them. This is always a risky undertaking, given that Tauros are perhaps the least friendly form of cattle in existence (including the African buffalo). I recommend keeping it sedated, or possible in some form of cryogenetic stasis, except when it is needed.
Diet: When formulating a diet for Miltank, one must think of it as eating everything a cow will eat, with the exception of grass.
Housing: Though they are less active than cattle – an achievement in itself – Miltank require far more food, so it is best to keep them in relatively small herds in large fields, and move them regularly.
Size: On all fours, they are only around four foot at the shoulder; however, they often move about on their hind legs, which brings their height to an imposing six or seven feet. The male of the species, Tauros, can reach five or six feet at the shoulder, and always stay on all fours in order to increase their ramming power.
Lifespan: Generally 15-17 years for the domestic breeds, but in the wild they tend to live longer. The reason for this is not yet fully understood.
Breeding: Always tricky, due to the necessary involvement of Tauros. Some advocate letting it loose once a year into the herd, but this means one has to catch it again – and catching a healthy Tauros in the midst of his conjugal fervour is no easy matter. It is best to consult the specialist literature here, but my feeling would be that Miltank ought to be led to the Tauros' abode, where it will be easier to tranquilise the beast.
Acquisition: Johto has always produced prime specimens, and there are some excellent breeding farms in the north-west.
Combee and Vespiquen
Combee (Frendomelissa dimorphus), like Miltank, is a tricky creature to keep. It seems that the danger posed by Pokémon increases in time with its usefulness to humanity, for Combee are both producers of the world's best honey and the greatest misogynist threat the world has ever seen. If you live in Sinnoh, it is likely you already know what I mean; if not, I shall explain. Female Combee eventually evolve to the hive organism and aerial honey-factory Vespiquen, which occupies a place of particular power in the Sinnish ecosystem; male Combee do not evolve, and leave the hives as soon as they are born to join swarms of other males. These swarms are driven by a unifying hatred for females and the power they wield, and roam the land in an attempt to kill every female organism on the planet.
Naturally, then, when one sets up a Combee apiary, full of female Combee, one attracts the attention of males – who will do everything in their power to slay every last one of your valuable stock.
What, then, must be done to prevent unimaginable financial loss on the part of the would-be beekeeper? The answer lies in fire. Take a look at the famous meadows of Floaroma; without the Fire-type Pokémon used to guard them and their stock of Combee, the male bees would swiftly overrun and destroy the farms through sheer force of numbers. (It must be remembered that only 12.5% of all Combee are female, according to the last census.) For this reason, I recommend that several Fire-types proficient in the use of Heat Wave are kept at hand all the time, in case of misogynist assault; three Ninetales are usually sufficient for a good-sized apiary, though less well-off farmers should be aware that the cheaper Vulpix is a (less effective) alternative.
It is also worth noting that male Combees hate all females, not just females of their species: they will sting women to death, as well as female animals or Pokémon. There is a reason Combeekeeping has historically been a man's game. I once knew a certain feminist who wished to assert her equality with men by running a Combee apiary; as grand gestures go, this was rather a stupid one, as bees possess neither morals nor a sufficient understanding of the rules of debate to withhold from stinging someone until she has finished making her point. Suffice to say that I had one more funeral to attend that month, which was a pity as I was planning a trip to Germany to study Zuppenkrab. What was even worse was that having cancelled my plans, I was then thrown out of the funeral for being male; such, regretfully, is the price of progress. After all, equality is a noble goal, but there are less insensitive ways of achieving it, such as throwing men who are not Coriolanus Rowland out of funerals.
Interestingly and far more relevantly, there are signs that certain tribes of Jynx are starting crusades against all male organisms, too; if no one has considered pitting these in a battle against a swarm of male Combee, I would recommend it, if only because it would probably result in an immensely popular television show.
Diet: Nectar for the females and, perhaps because of their lifestyle, spinal fluid for the males.
Housing: Combee themselves are usually kept in the same manner as bees, though on a larger scale; Vespiquen are self-housing, since they each keep their own colony of worker Combee inside their abdomens. Remember that there must be some sort of tower from which one can mount a lookout for approaching swarms of males, or they will appear before you are ready with your Fire-types.
Size: Combee are around the size of a wren – that is to say, not more than four inches long at the absolute maximum. Vespiquen, on the other hand, grow continually with age; on average, they are around three and half feet tall, but they have been known to reach six feet. Any larger than this, it seems, and their primitive lungs are no longer capable of providing them with oxygen, and they asphixiate.
Lifespan: Unevolved Combee live no longer than four years at the most, though many are killed by the cold each winter. Vespiqueen may live for up to nine years; they too have some problems with the cold, but are generally capable of hibernating through it at the expense of their worker Combee's lives.
Evolution: Necessary if one wants to create a profitable farm; ten Vespiqueen and their respective colonies can do the work of one hundred and forty Combee for half the food supply.
Breeding: To be expected. Unlike bees, every Combee is fertile; unlike bees and indeed most organisms, male Combee will under no circumstances mate with a female, and the species is perpetuated solely by parthenogenesis. Remarkably, the eggs thereby produced are fertile, though it does raise questions about the genetic adaptability of the species.
Acquisition: Sinnoh breeders simply can't be matched here, although if one wants Vespiquen without Combee, there are often a few to be picked up relatively inexpensively at Dorian's. Alternatively, one could try the Thai markets, which sell Combee live for the cooking pot at scandalously low prices. However, these specimens are often de-winged and de-stinged, though they can be used to breed healthy ones, and therefore disprove Lamarckism as well as start off your colony.
It is rare that one chooses to farm so dangerous a creature as Vanilluxe (classification uncertain); to put it in context, doing so is roughly equivalent to an animal farmer attempting to farm tigers. Inhabitants of Castelia City will know all too well the danger of feral Vanilluxe; scarcely a week goes by without another person falling to their predation. They are completely silent, and generally follow people for some time through alleyways before swiftly and suddenly freezing their head solid and consuming the remaining flesh on the body; even if they do not have the element of surprise, they are uncommonly difficult to take on in a fight, being largely unaffected by bullets and capable of lowering one's core body temperature to below freezing in less than four seconds. Just looking at them tells you that they are dangerous: their twin faces bear fixed, staring grins and they are almost always surrounded in a haze of icy mist.
Why, then, would any sane person try and farm one of Unova's top predators? The answer is, as with almost everything else in life, money. Vanilluxe's bodies, which work by some mechanism unknown to modern biology, are entirely composed of soft-scoop ice cream of a quality unattainable by conventional methods of production. Vanilluxe ice cream is a delicacy that commands high prices across Northern Europe and Unova; at present, though, this is entirely taken from wild-caught specimens, which are carefully hunted using Fire Arrows produced by the Hyrule Weaponry Corporation. However, as knowledge of these strange creatures increases, ways of containing and sedating them are being discovered, and now the ice cream industry stands on the brink of a revolution: for the first time in human history, it is beginning to be possible to farm their product.
We have established that there is a remarkable financial incentive. How, then, does one go about farming Vanilluxe? With great caution, I would reply. It is worth having an Arcanine to act as a sort of sheepdog and keep them in line; however, getting the so-called Legendary Pokémon out of China can be hell, so perhaps one might settle for Ninetales, which is less effective at this job but easier to obtain. The best way of containing Vanilluxe is still being debated, but I personally lean towards the theory of a converted aircraft hanger, from which at least escape is unlikely.
If any of your Vanilluxe do escape, there is almost nothing you can do except attempt to destroy them. Capturing Vanilluxe takes time and effort; their metabolisms run extremely slowly (like humans, they kill more to pass the time than to obtain food) and any sedative takes at least forty-eight hours to take effect. If they get beyond your farm's boundaries, they will almost certainly kill at least four people, and very probably more; they naturally do well in cities, being skilled at navigating alleys, evading detection and sniping pursuers in the head with long-distance Ice Beams. For this reason, I cannot recommend placing your farm near any major settlement, or even any settlements at all.
Collecting the ice-cream would also be a major problem were it not for a quirk of nature: thankfully, Vanilluxe die after mating, which means that once a year your entire stock will perish, leaving crystalline eggs for next year and several tones of premium ice cream behind.
Diet: Raw flesh. You should operate on a scheme of feast and fast; if you give them too much food, it will go to waste as they will refuse to eat it. I suggest the equivalent of one person of average build (perhaps an estate agent or similarly unloved character) per fortnight per creature.
Housing: As described above. Others recommend underground vaults, which are arguably more secure but often result in in-fighting amongst the group, with the result that several of your valuable animals end up dead.
Size: Up to four and a half feet tall; they do float, though, which means that their eyes are usually level with one's own.
Lifespan: No one is entirely certain how long they live if they do not mate; it does not help that they are all almost completely identical, and individual specimens are therefore hard to track. Otherwise, they die after reproducing.
Evolution: This occurs naturally over the course of eight months, which is why it is impossible to keep, for instance, just Vanillite – which would be far safer.
Breeding: Will occur every year, provided you have an equal mix of males and females, at around the time of the autumn solstice. This lets the young mature through the winter, which is the easiest time of year for them.
Acquisition: Specialist hunters in Sweden, Norway and Unova; there are currently no established breeders, but often one can find baby Vanillite lurking around the warehouses in Driftveil City. There is always the option of capturing an adult in Castelia, but the Vanilluxe there seem to be rather old, and all are well-versed in the art of skulking around a city and killing people who come near them.
Whenever one has to remove a Pokémon's head for the sake of jewellery, there will always be complaints. Clamperl (Biconcha margaritari) is no exception; it forms beautiful pearls within its shell, but unfortunately these pearls house its eyes, mouth and brain. Naturally, this has been the cause of some considerable tension between Pokémon welfare lobbyists and pearl farmers.
The primary thing to bear in mind here is, I think, that no one has definitively proved that Clamperl are capable of feeling pain yet. Therefore, the agriculturalist is perfectly justified in believing that they in fact feel nothing when they are prised open and have their heads twisted off.
And certainly it could be argued that the end justifies the means: Clamperl pearls are highly sought-after, not only because of their incredible size and colouration, but because touching them amplifies psionic ability. For instance, Trainers who used Spoink habitually use the pearls to increase their Pokémon's rather puny powers.
Other than the controversy, there is little to say about them. They are rather dull creatures.
Diet: They are filter feeders; their water supply should contain as much plankton as possible, to promote active growth.
Housing: A large lake should do for a good-size colony; however, the danger of this is that in the dark you might miss one of them becoming too large to fit inside its shell. When they reach this size they are close to evolution, and therefore close to becoming a potent threat. You may wish to grow them in batch tanks instead, where it is easier to check them. Make sure to keep them in the dark; high light levels bother them, which causes imperfections in their pearls.
Size: They grow continually, but should be harvested before they begin to spill outside their shell, which occurs when the shell reaches its maximum diameter of two feet.
Lifespan: It depends on what they evolve into: if Huntail, four years; if Gorebyss, seven.
Evolution: When Clamperl grow too large, they evolve within the safe confines of their shell over a period of several days and emerge as either powerful deep-sea predators or sturdy deep-sea browsers. You will want to harvest them before this happens; if a Huntail gets into your stock, you will get a rather nasty surprise the next time you harvest the pearls.
Breeding: Clamperl cannot breed; Huntail or Gorebyss produce clouds of eggs that hatch into gelatinous blobs. These settle to the seafloor and mature into Clamperl, and can be bought in various stages of development.
Acquisition: The pearl reefs of eastern Hoenn are famous for them, especially around Mossdeep Island, but otherwise they are fairly commonly available through the usual markets.